I’m thinking this is a dilemma that MLB can handle with one swipe of a credit card. Besides for the fact that it sounds like another one of those juice jobs by caretakers who prey on the finances of those that they are entrusted to take care of in their final days, it’s also a case of a widow fighting for her final wishes to be met and not wanting the fate of her husband’s remains to be in the hands of the woman who happened to have his ear and control of his finances as he eroded physically. It's some juicy, soap opera stuff involved too. Contesting wills and heated court battles. You'd think Ernie Banks was the onwer of Graceland when he passed.
According to court records, Ernie's widow Elizabeth Banks filed a petition to prevent Regina Rice who describes herself in the documents as a friend of Ernie Banks, his caretaker and the executor of Banks' estate from having him cremated. Rice, asserted her rights to dispose of Banks' remains after his death last month at the age of 83, according to documents filed by Elizabeth Banks' attorneys on Feb. 2.
Elizabeth Banks has prevented the body from being cremated so far. But it was unclear where exactly the body was taken. According to Banks attorney Howard Golden, Banks is buried at Graceland Cemetery, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Butthe folks at Graceland say Banks is not buried there. And Dave Babczak, manager of Donnellan Funeral Home -- establishment that handled the ceremony --declined to comment on the dispute, saying only that Banks' remains were no longer at the funeral home.
In court documents obtained by The Associated Press, there is no mention that Banks wanted his ashes scattered at the ballpark where he played his entire 19-year Hall of Fame career. But over the years, it has surfaced that Banks on at least one occasion years ago, famously told a local newspaper reporter that after he died he wanted "my ashes spread out over Wrigley Field — with the wind blowing out."
In Ernie Banks’ case, it doesn’t seem like The Hall of Fame shortstop had much to leave behind. In fact, according to the AP out of Chi-town, Donnellan Family Funeral Services is asking to be paid $35,000, including nearly $4,000 for legal fees it incurred "due to dispute over disposition" of Banks' remains. Even if the court rules Rice’s control over Banks’ estate invalid, Banks’ widow isn’t inheriting a fortune. Either Banks lived on a really tight budget or Rice ate through the money like Ms Pac Man. Last month, a judge ordered Rice to provide a full accounting of Banks' estate after her attorney said Banks had assets worth just $16,000 when he died in January.
It kind of reminds me of the Frankie Lymon movie where his ex-wives all battle over his estate only to learn that he’s pretty broke. Out of respect for a baseball legend and his associates, MLB needs to step in and pay the funeral costs. If MLB doesn’t feel like handling the bill, then the affluent Cubs organization should swoop in and clear this up. They owe Banks that much for his years of servitude as not only a premier player but a baseball ambassador affectionately known as “Mr. Cub.”